A 52-year-old Dallas hidden gem is in danger of closing for good if it doesn’t get some extra support from the community. After months of mandatory closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, Tradewinds Social Club is struggling to stay afloat. The Oak Cliff watering hole and cultural hub has no reopening date in sight (nor do any other local bars), so manager and bartender Justin DiBernardo started a GoFundMe campaign to help keep the landmark around.
“During the first shutdown, we had somebody donate merch. We sold a lot of merchandise. We did some pop-ups and that sort of thing,” says DiBernardo.
Tradewinds had a few decent weekends of business in May when bars were allowed to open at 25 percent and then 50 percent capacity. They brought in local chefs to pair to-go eats with their to-go cocktails. Regulars started returning and the resident musician, Tauvy, resumed his weekly acoustic sets. The bar’s modest size lends itself well to social distancing, and DiBernardo says patrons were adjusting well to the new normal.
“And when the second [shutdown] came around, it was so unexpected we didn’t really have a plan. We got a couple of pop-ups planned, not too much, but you know, we got to pay some bills, pay some rent.”
Unable to reopen, Tradewinds’ income has been completely dependent on those to-go and pop-up sales, and it’s simply not enough. The manager started the GoFundMe campaign with the goal of raising $3,000; as of writing, it’s only about $500 short.
“I think we need to just ride the storm with COVID. We’re not going to be able to do our regular business until people are comfortable coming out, coming to events, and feeling safe. If and when we reopen, we’ll try to do things slowly and safely. It’s a waiting game,” says DiBernardo.
In Dallas, Tradewinds is somewhat of a unicorn of a venue. While DiBernardo describes it as first and foremost a neighborhood bar, it’s also become a creative hub for artists to experiment freely. Take the recurring performance art variety show, Avant To Leave This Planet, or Tradewinds’ weekly live music lab, Running With Scissors, for example.
“It’s evolved into this great cultural hotspot where it’s definitely a safe space for all artists. So, we pride ourselves in making sure people know that they feel safe doing what they want to do, art-wise and culture-wise, and it’s really worked. I think people really flock to that culture that we’ve created,” DiBernardo says.
Hopefully, with a helping hand from the community and maybe a few more successful pop-ups, Tradewinds Social Club can continue to fill its unique niche in Dallas. You can donate to the GoFundMe to keep Tradewinds in business here. The bar plans to host a pop-up with to-go food and drink the first weekend of August, details TBA. Check their Facebook page for updates.